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India to regulate online news and social media sites – Al Jazeera English

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New order brings online news portals and content providers such as Netflix under the ambit of the gov’t in a first step to regulate digital media.

India’s government has issued an order bringing the regulation of online news portals and content providers such as Netflix under the authority of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a first step to regulate digital media.

News on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will also come under the ministry, as will audio-visual content on online platforms, according to Wednesday’s announcement.

Apar Gupta, executive director at the Internet Freedom Foundation, said the order set out to clarify overlapping jurisdictions between the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

“Online news media portals as well as OTT [over-the-top] streaming platforms such as Netflix” will now come under the jurisdiction of the information and broadcasting ministry, Gupta told Al Jazeera.

However, it was not clear if news portals from other countries would be included.

According to local media, the government will pass a law in Parliament detailing the regulation of online media.

While electronic media in India is regulated by the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, there was no law or body to oversee digital content in the past.

Wednesday’s order comes after the Supreme Court sought answers from the government last month after hearing a petition to regulate content on OTT platforms.

In September, 15 live-streaming platforms announced self-regulation to pre-empt censorship after right-wing activists called for regulation of online content.

Not a ‘good sign’

India’s Bollywood film industry is censored by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) but Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5 and other OTT platforms, which have become very popular particularly during the pandemic, are unregulated.

“Right-wing and conservative elements in the country, many of whom are the supporters of the ruling government, have been saying there is need to regulate the content on OTT platforms like Netflix and it came up ostensibly because online platforms are showing films that do not come under the regulatory ambit of CBFC and they say you are showing a lot of explicit scenes which depict sex and violence,” Paranjoy Guha Tharukta, writer and senior journalist, said.

Guha added that: “The design of the government behind this move is to control online media, both fiction and non-fiction.”

Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor of thewire.in news website, said the move is “prelude to some kind of ordinance on digital news media.”

“We have to see what the government is trying to do, what rules they are trying to bring in, but either way I don’t think this is a good sign because the fact is that the digital media is already subject to the laws of the land,” he told Al Jazeera.

“All the restrictions that exist on regular media such as the law of defamation or various other constraints, they all apply to digital media. In addition to that, digital media has the burden of compliance with the Information Technology Act which does not apply to newspapers and news channels.

“In my view, digital media is already regulated and if the government is looking for an additional layer then this is not a healthy sign and no democracy has this kind of a thing. That in itself should give us reason to be cautious.”

Al Jazeera tried to reach out to the spokesman of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party but he declined to comment.

Bilal Kuchay contributed to the report

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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail on fraud charge – CBC.ca

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Outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was refused bail on Thursday on a fraud charge amid a growing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

Jimmy Lai of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper, was among 10 people arrested Aug. 10 on what police said was suspicion of violating a national security law and collusion with a foreign country.

Lai, 73, was later released on bail but police raided his company’s offices in October and took away documents.

On Wednesday, Lai and two Next Digital executives were charged with fraud over accusations that they violated lease terms for Next Digital office space.

Lai appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail. His case has been adjourned until April 16.

Hong Kong police said in a statement Wednesday that they had arrested three men on charges of fraud, without naming them. Police also said that one of them had been suspected of violating the national security law, and that it was still under investigation.

Beijing imposed the national security law in response to protests in Hong Kong that began in June 2019 over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy in the former British colony.

Law undermines freedom of speech, says Britain

The sweeping legislation prompted more public protests and led to complaints that Beijing is violating the autonomy promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China and damaging its status as a business centre.

Apple Daily criticized the law on its front page on July 1, calling it the “final nail in the coffin” of the region’s autonomy.

The British government had slammed Lai’s August arrest and said the security law was being used to crush dissent.

The law is “being implemented in a way that undermines freedom of speech,” the British government said in a report this month on the status of the 1984 agreement for Hong Kong’s return to China.

“It is imperative that this freedom is fully respected,” the report said.

Lai was earlier arrested in February and April on charges of taking part in unauthorized protests. He also faces charges of joining an unauthorized vigil marking the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail on fraud charge – OrilliaMatters

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HONG KONG — Outspoken Hong Kong pro-democracy advocate and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was refused bail on Thursday on a fraud charge amid a growing crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city.

Jimmy Lai of Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper, was among 10 people arrested Aug. 10 on what police said was suspicion of violating a national security law and collusion with a foreign country.

Lai, 73, was later released on bail but police raided his company’s offices in October and took away documents.

On Wednesday, Lai and two Next Digital executives were charged with fraud over accusations that they violated lease terms for Next Digital office space.

Lai appeared in court Thursday and was denied bail. His case has been adjourned till April 16.

Hong Kong police said in a statement Wednesday that it had arrested three men on charges of fraud, without naming them. It also said that one of them had been suspected of violating the national security law, and that it was still under investigation.

Beijing imposed the national security law in response to protests in Hong Kong that began in June 2019 over a proposed extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy in the former British colony.

The sweeping legislation prompted more public protests and led to complaints that Beijing is violating the autonomy promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China and damaging its status as a business centre.

Apple Daily criticized the law on its front page on July 1, calling it the “final nail in the coffin” of the territory’s autonomy.

The British government had slammed Lai’s August arrest and said the security law was being used to crush dissent.

The law is “being implemented in a way that undermines freedom of speech,” the British government said in a report this month on the status of the 1984 agreement for Hong Kong’s return to China.

“It is imperative that this freedom is fully respected,” the report said.

Lai was earlier arrested in February and April on charges of taking part in unauthorized protests. He also faces charges of joining an unauthorized vigil marking the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Zen Soo, The Associated Press


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Haligonians answer call on social media to show struggling eatery some love – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
Dozens of people answered the dinner bell Tuesday in support of a struggling Mexican restaurant in Halifax’s north end.

A social media message about the difficulties facing Tako Loko prompted hungry Haligonians to line up down the street for a bite to eat.

On Wednesday, there was some extra prep work taking place in the kitchen at Tako Loko.

“Sold out, everything, so we’re going to do again … everything,” said owner Vicky Ruiz.

The spike in business was the result of one tweet that made the rounds on social media saying the owner is really struggling to keep the lights on and the doors open.

The result was a lineup of people down the street.

“I almost cried, I was happy, very happy because the people support us,” Ruiz said. “We had Uber Eats and we couldn’t take orders from Uber Eats and we couldn’t answer the phone because the line was two blocks here.”

Megan Smith and Nicole Carruthers live in the neighborhood and have been coming for months.

“It’s excellent,” they say.

It was so busy Smith and Carruthers couldn’t even place their usual order.

“I tried calling before five and they couldn’t take my order because they were that busy, it was awesome,” Smith said.

Some who couldn’t show up in person took up a neighbourhood collection and dropped the money off in a card.

The restaurant was scheduled to close at 9 p.m. but they actually ran out of food before that. Ruiz spent this morning at the grocery store, stocking up for tonight.

“It makes you proud of your local community, proud of Halifax and proud of people in the north end,” Carruthers said. “A lot of challenges have come out of this pandemic. It’s really nice to see people come out and supporting each other in a challenging time.”

Ruiz opened in March, just at the beginning of the pandemic. They stuck it out, but as COVID continued, the restaurant, like many others, started to struggle.

Ruiz has no plans to close her kitchen, and after the response yesterday, staying open will be much easier.

“I am a very hard worker and the people depend on this restaurant, they need a job,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz doesn’t know the person who put the post on social media but she has a message for him.

“Thank you, thank you, and free tacos for him,” she said.

He may however have to wait in line.

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